Discover your inner leader and start building the skills you need to pursue your dreams for your career, your team and your organization. EACH OF US KNOWS SOMEONE WHO TRULY HUNGERS FOR LEADERSHIP. It’s probably someone who campaigned for class president back in elementary school or who raises her hand every time there is a call for a committee chair or a volunteer assignment to coordinate a big project. We also probably know individuals who don’t especially aspire to leadership, but who quietly fill in whenever they sense a vacuum—and certainly whenever asked. Whether an outgoing “cool kid” or an unassuming introvert, you will find there’s plenty of room at the leadership table! But are you ready to pull up a chair? How can School Nutrition help you define your interests, identify your strengths and hone your skills? Well, in addition to directing you to the other main feature articles in this month’s magazine, we can start by suggesting other available resources, such as the Presentations and Papers Library on SchoolNutrition.org (click on the Meetings & Events tab to access; note this a members-only area of the website). You’ll find numerous leadership-related presentations offered at SNA’s Annual National Conference and its National Leadership Conference for the last five years. We also encourage you to ask your state association to consider nominating you to attend SNA’s annual Future Leaders Program (see page 34). School Nutrition can’t replicate the interactive content of this comprehensive live leadership training program, but in the following pages, we’ve adapted and excerpted some of the featured materials and messages. We hope this inspires many readers to take the next step on a journey that may lead them to writing the monthly President’s Perspective column in this magazine. Are you ready to proceed, lead and then succeed? FUTURE LEADERS WANTED! Do you know someone with demonstrated leadership qualities who is committed to life-long learning and a career in school nutrition? Are you that person? Since 2007, SNA has offered the Future Leaders Program, a hands-on training opportunity for emerging leaders in the Association. Taught by SNA past presidents, this interactive program includes an overview of leadership basics, discussion of the attributes of a leader, professional communications advice and public speaking tips. Participants also use the Gallup StrengthsFinder self-assessment tool to identify and learn how to apply their own unique set of leadership strengths. By the end of the 2.5-day event, attendees are ready to craft their own individual Leadership Plan. The Future Leaders Program is held in conjunction with the National Leadership Conference each spring. You must be nominated by your state association to participate, and the state covers registration and travel fees. All nominees must be active SNA members who hold an SNA Certificate in School Nutrition or the SNS credential. Check with your state association about upcoming deadlines for nominations. In the decade since the program’s launch, a whopping 415 individuals have “graduated” from the Future Leaders Program. Of these, nearly 140 have served as state committee chairs, with more than 180 specifically being on the state president track. Nearly 40 have gone on to serve on a national committee or task force and 6 are current or former national SNA Board members! Look in the mirror—do you see a future leader smiling back at you? To learn more, contact Nate Bell, SNA state affiliate relations manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. FUTURE LEADER FOOD FOR THOUGHT The following case study has been modified from SNA’s Future Leaders Program. At the annual state association meeting, Amanda, the current president, comes to the Exhibit Hall directly from a midday group wellness walk. The afternoon schedule is very tight, and she doesn’t want to miss anything, so Amanda and her colleagues are all still in workout gear. She feels no need to acknowledge her casual attire, since she’s wearing a sponsor t-shirt from the event. Each time she stops at a vendor’s booth, she asks if she can have six of each food sample or conference memento (pens, bags, pins, etc.) so she can give one to each of her “ladies” back home. What would you say about Amanda’s behavior in managing her responsibilities as a state president? What is the proper leader response? FUTURE LEADER FOOD FOR THOUGHT The following case study has been modified f rom SNA’s Future Leaders Program. It’s time for the local chapter’s end-of-the-year banquet. The annual event is always planned by the president-elect. This year, that’s Anita, who announced that the banquet would be a more formal function this time. In fact, the new school superintendent has accepted her invitation to attend, along with her principal and a school board member! Dinner is scheduled to begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. At 6:40 p.m., Arnold, the current president, comes strolling in, stopping to greet people along the way, finally making it to the front of the room by 6:50 p.m. Anita is embarrassed that Arnold is dressed in faded jeans, with a t-shirt featuring a beer logo on the front. When he realizes that Anita is upset, he makes light of her concerns, suggesting that she should lighten up and remember that it’s a party. Plus, it wasn’t his idea to make it a formal event. What would you say about Arnold’s behavior in managing responsibilities as a chapter leader? What is the proper leader response? LEADERSHIP IS…. A process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership attributes, including values, ethics, knowledge, character and skills. Although your job position may give you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives for the organization, this power does not make you a leader. It simply makes you the boss. FUTURE LEADER FOOD FOR THOUGHT The following case study has been modified from SNA’s Future Leaders Program. At a local state association meeting, A.J., the president is in the process of preparing the House of Delegates meeting. She has reviewed the PowerPoint presentation with each committee chair ahead of time to ensure that everyone was on the same page about the information. Today is the day. A.J. is dressed professionally, wearing a jacket over a neutral-colored blouse and a pair of slacks. In her State of the Association address, she stands at the podium and speaks to members clearly, without rushing or mumbling. She looks up from her script periodically, scanning parts of the entire room each time. When finished, she invites the audience to ask questions or make comments. Her advance preparation meant that she answered all questions while remaining on time with the agenda. What would you say about A.J.’s behavior in managing responsibilities for being a state leader? What is the proper leader response? MANAGERS VS. LEADERS Which one are you? Maybe both? There are times to lead and times to manage—know the difference! MANAGERS A person with the authority to control or administer a business operation Focus on things Do things right Plan Organize Direct Control Implement Follow the rules Excels at Hard Skills (scheduling, staffing, analysis, organization) LEADERS A person who is followed by others Focus on people Do the right things Inspire Innovate Motivate Build Coach Shape entities Excels at Soft Skills (communication, motivation, team building, change management) THINK BEFORE YOU… Before you act… Listen. Before you react… Think. Before you spend… Earn. Before you criticize… Wait. Before you pray… Forgive. Before you quit… Try. Attributed to both Ernest Hemingway and William Arthur Ward ATTRIBUTES OF A LEADER: LISTENING Leaders listen! This is the most important attribute of a leader. You have two ears and one mouth. Let this serve as a reminder that we should listen twice as much as we talk, so that we can learn from others! PROBLEM SOLVING Effective leaders approach problems in ways that move a group forward. They know where they want to go and have a vision for what their organization can achieve. These leaders inspire others to work toward the same vision, helping to create goals that are stepping stones toward the vision—and then working together to develop creative ideas for reaching the goals. GUIDING VISION Effective leaders know what they want to do and have the strength of character to pursue their objectives in the face of opposition and in spite of failures. The effective leader establishes achievable goals. INTEGRITY & TRUST Because they know who they are, effective leaders are also aware of their weaknesses. They only make promises upon which they can follow through. Effective leaders earn the trust of their followers and act on behalf of their followers. PASSION Effective leaders believe passionately in their goals. They have a positive outlook regarding who they are and they love what they do. Their passion for life is a guiding star for others to follow, because they radiate promise and hope! CURIOSITY & RISK Leaders are learners. They wonder about every aspect of their charge. They find out what they need to know in order to pursue their goals. They take calculated risks when necessary to achieve their objectives. If a mistake is made, the effective leader will use that as a learning opportunity. BE DARING Leadership requires courage. When you step up to leadership, you make yourself vulnerable to criticism (including from that nagging voice inside) and to potential failure. But bravery also is empowering. That’s because fear is largely anticipatory—we are afraid of what we don’t know and of what might happen. So, we put off the knowing as long as possible, and it can create agonizing anxiety. But the very act of bravely stepping up eliminates that anxiety, because we are now wholly in the present rather than the mysterious future. We are acting rather than anticipating. Not only can courage be very freeing, but it can unleash powerful and satisfying creativity and energy. No longer are you being held back by fear. You are coming from a place of strength, ready to focus on the positive potential, rather than the negative possibility. All because you dared yourself to do it. What exactly will you dare yourself to do on your own leadership journey? ➧ Dare to be a person, not a position. ➧ Dare to be self-assured and confident, while still being humble. ➧ Dare to be calm in face of stormy conditions, rather than defensive and reactive. ➧ Dare to keep your ego in check. ➧ Dare to admit your mistakes, take responsibility and move on. ➧ Dare to ask for help when needed. ➧ Dare to connect with people, listening and responding to their vulnerabilities and being willing to share your own. ➧ Dare to respect others, even when you disagree. ➧ Dare to be hopeful and optimistic, even when encountering unexpected obstacles. ➧ Dare to drive the dream, remaining relentlessly committed to the outcome. ➧ Dare to keep asking “What If?” “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady of the United State “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. Once you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch, Former General Electric CEO “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President “A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can’t be much of a leader if all she sees is herself.” Maya Angelou, American poet and author
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